Heartwarming Mother-Daughter Reconciliation
Mnemon would like to have said that she kept her head high as they marched through the lower levels of the Imperial Manse. But the practicalities of being dragged - half carried, in truth - were not conducive to such defiant gestures. And she was in no state for further defiance. Oh, she had tried. When the watch of the two Infernals who were her captors seemed to lapse, when the endless twisting maze of corridors met an intersection, or dimmed into shadow where lighting had failed. Even here in the heart of enemy held territory, there had been a glimmer of hope for escape. Her guards had thought her thoroughly cowed, and their watch on her had been less than perfect. She had been patient enough to wait for the right moment, but in the end, their vigilance. slipshod as their arrogance had made it, had been enough.
There was a certain irony to being brought here. How often had she poured over fragmented records and incomplete schematics, trying to divine how she might crack the defenses of the Imperial Manse and claim the Realm Defense Grid, and with it, the throne? How many times had she stood before it’s high doors, wondering to herself if today might be that day to pit herself against the greatest test? Now she was going into the heart of the Manse, past all the defenses she had not been able to defeat, without any trouble about the defenses and wards and security on her own part.
No, that trouble was all in the hands of Felicious Asperity, the Infernal Exalt who was in charge of bringing Mnemon wherever their final destination lay. Despite the circumstances she was in, Mnemon couldn’t help but find amusement in the frustration on the face of the somber, black-clad woman. Navigating the Imperial Manse was a chore even for those who were invited, and the defenses of the Manse, built by those who had been enemies to the Yozi’s, were ever one false step away from recognizing the servants of hell as enemies. Which meant that even with the express invitation of her mother, who theoretically controlled the Manse, the Princes of the Green Sun, as they styled themselves, had to step lightly.
The less competent, at least in her own estimation, of her two guards bore the unflattering sobriquet of Austere Rationing in Submission to Opulence. The younger infernal took malicious glee in subtly undermining his nominal superior, a task made all too easy by their escort of fractious, temperamental Blood Apes. He seemed to view prodding them into misbehavior as a form of entertainment, funny until it forced them to run for the safety of another room by triggering some trap or another in the one where the demons had been provoked into fratricidal violence. That had been the closest she’d come to, if not freedom, at least slipping her captors’ grasps. But however, much Opulence chafed at being assigned to the command of one with which he, in his own inflated opinion, was coequal, if not superior to, he knew better than to let his ambition ruin his assignment and thus bring punishment on his own head. He had barely hesitated before throwing himself into peril to collar Mnemon while Asperity watched, a smirk on her lips as her subordinate hastened to play his part.
That bid for escape had earned Mnemon a severe beating from the senior Infernal, who declared that her mother had only requested she be alive and whole, not unbruised, unstabbed, or any other number of un’s. Something she would be happy to expand on if Mnemon tried to run into a deathtrap again. Mnemon briefly allowed herself the fancy that Asperity was as disappointed as she was that the younger infernal had not died in rescuing her - the anathema may have crafted wonders in a previous age, but clearly they had no idea how to make a proper deathtrap - Opulence was barely singed. Then her mind caught up to the implications of what Asperity had just said. When they had taken her alive, she had been expecting torture, enslavement, some sick depravity of the Yozis. No. They had worse in store for her. They intended to take her to her mother.
It would have been better, if she could pretend that this was just demon who wore her mother’s face, a slave to the will of the Yozis. But Mnemon knew better. The Scarlet Empress - even Mnemon called her mother by that title; mommy dearest had made sure that her name was lost to history - knew demonic lore even better than than she did, and would not have part in any such surrender. No, her pact, her infernal bargain with the forces that would undermine creation - it was something else entirely. Whatever the Queen of Hell was, she was no Akuma.
She should have guessed. Who else would be awaiting her in a chamber deep within the Imperial Manse? When she had first returned, the Empress, no the Queen- it would not do to sully the throne that Mnemon herself had so deeply coveted with association with this monster her mother had become - had made grand proclamations from the Throne Room, and held court there. But after the declaration of war against Lookshy, after the Righteous Orphan rebellion Mnemon herself had set in motion on the Blessed Isle, after anathema (and not the malfean ones) were reported in large and growing number on the blessed isle itself, the Queen of Hell had increasingly hidden herself away in the bowels of the mysterious first age structure.
Without armor or weapons or her prized Mantle of Brigid, Mnemon conceded, she would make no headway by trying to escape her captors, who, after all, were guiding her through a maze of death traps. She instead devoted herself to mentally preparation. She’d be meeting her mother again, after several long years, and if nothing else, Mnemon didn’t intend to embarrass herself in front of her mother. There were bad deaths, and then there was making a fool of herself in her mother’s presence. She’d never forgive herself.
How off is my Mnemon voice?